The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [June 20]

Each week I take a look the Billboard Country Airplay chart and grade the top 30 songs. The grading format I use each week is every song will receive either a +1, -1 or a 0. These will then be tallied up for an overall score, or pulse of the current top thirty country songs, with the highest possible score being a +30 and the lowest possible score being a -30. How do I determine if a song is rated a +1, -1 or 0? The rating it received on the site or myself will determine this. If it hasn’t been rated yet, then I will make the call. Songs rated between 7 and 10 receive a +1. Songs rated between 5 and 6.5 receive a 0. Songs rated 4.5 or lower receive a -1.

The goal of this exercise is to evaluate the current state of mainstream country music and determine if it’s improving or getting worse. Let’s take a look at this week’s top thirty…

  1. Florida Georgia Line – “Sippin’ On Fire”  -1 (Up 1)
  2. Kenny Chesney & Grace Potter – “Wild Child” +1 (Up 2)
  3. Carrie Underwood – “Little Toy Guns” +1 (Up 4)
  4. Blake Shelton – “Sangria” -1 (Up 1)
  5. Kelsea Ballerini – “Love Me Like You Mean It” -1 (Up 3)
  6. Easton Corbin – “Baby Be My Love Song” -1
  7. A Thousand Horses – “Smoke” (Down 6)
  8. Billy Currington – “Don’t It” -1 (Down 5)
  9. Tim McGraw & Catherine Dunn – “Diamond Rings and Old Barstools” +1 [Best Song]
  10. Jason Aldean – “Tonight Looks Good On You” -1 (Up 1)
  11. Canaan Smith – “Love You Like That” -1 (Up 1)
  12. Little Big Town – “Girl Crush” +1 (Down 2)
  13. Brad Paisley – “Crushin’ It” -1 
  14. Brantley Gilbert – “One Hell of an Amen” 
  15. Michael Ray – “Kiss You In The Morning” -1 (Up 1)
  16. Frankie Ballard – “Young & Crazy” (Down 1)
  17. Luke Bryan – “Kick The Dust Up” -1 (Up 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  18. Zac Brown Band – “Loving You Easy” (Down 1)
  19. Dustin Lynch – “Hell of a Night” -1 
  20. Eric Church – “Like A Wrecking Ball” -1 (Up 2)
  21. Thomas Rhett – “Crash and Burn” -1 (Down 1) [Tied for Worst Song]
  22. Rascal Flatts – “Riot” (Down 1)
  23. Chris Janson – “Buy Me A Boat” -1 
  24. Maddie & Tae – “Fly” +1 
  25. Sam Hunt – “House Party” -1 (Up 3) [Tied for Worst Song]
  26. Brett Eldredge – “Lose My Mind” -1 
  27. Kip Moore – “I’m To Blame”
  28. Chase Rice – “Gonna Wanna Tonight” -1 (Up 2)
  29. Reba – “Going Out Like That” -1 (New to Top 30)
  30. Cole Swindell – “Let Me See Ya Girl” -1 (New to Top 30)

Luke Bryan’s “Games” fell from #25 to out of the top 30 (out of the airplay chart).

Jake Owen’s “Real Life” fell from #29 to out of the top 30 (#37).

The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music: -14

The pulse remains the same at -14 this week, despite two changes. There were two songs that fell out of the top 30 this week. The first was Luke Bryan’s “Games,” which has been on the way out ever since “Kick The Dust Up” surfaced. It was never released as a single and yet radio played it anyway. Good riddance to that spring break dreck. The second song to fall out was Jake Owen’s “Real Life,” which had a hot-shot debut last week at #29. This is typical for hot singles to cool off considerably in the second week. It’ll rebound with ease and perform strongly on the chart. The two songs that replace it are sadly not better in quality. The first new song to join the top 30 is Reba’s “Going Out Like That.” It’s the worst song off Reba’s new album, which is actually quite good. This single was conceived for radio play and now it’s fulfilling its goal. The second new song is Cole Swindell’s “Let Me See Ya Girl.” Because if you’re going for the worst pulse score possible you gotta have Swindell involved. I continue to hate every single Swindell song with every fiber of my being.

The new #1 on the chart this week is Florida Georgia Line’s “Sippin’ On Fire.” It’s yet another terrible #1 song from the Nickelback of country music. While this is certainly not their strongest #1 song they’ve ever had, it still performed well on the chart when I thought America was finally losing patience with the group. Their next single is “Anything Goes” and it’s not any better. Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter’s “Wild Child” is poised to be the new #1 next week. This is pretty much a guarantee. After that though is where I’m interested. There’s a four song logjam between Underwood, Shelton, Ballerini and Corbin. Personally I think “Baby Be My Love Song” isn’t in the conversation for #1, as I think it’s getting close to peaking. I think it just misses out. The other three are dead even, with Underwood having a slight edge at the moment. Radio in the past has blocked Carrie from achieving an Airplay #1. But if they were to do it right now with Salad Gate still fresh in people’s minds, they would be insane. We’ll have to wait and see what happens.

The biggest gainers this week were Carrie Underwood’s “Little Toy Guns,” which moved up four spots from #7 to #3, Kelsea Ballerini’s “Love Me Like You Mean It” moved up three spots to #5 and Sam Hunt’s “House Party” moved up three spots to #25. The biggest losers this week were both songs that fell out of the top 30, along with A Thousand Horses’ “Smoke” and Billy Currington’s “Don’t It.” As for the songs I see leaving the top 30 soon, the latter two I just mentioned will be out of the top 30 next week without a doubt. Other than that I don’t see any songs dropping out. A couple to keep an eye on are Corbin’s song and Canaan Smith’s “Love You Like That,” as I feel both could be close to peaking. Brad Paisley’s “Crushin’ It” is another to maybe watch for this too.

Two of the four songs I predicted would make the top 30 soon last week made it this week. As for this week, the songs outside the top 30 I expect to see in the top 30 soon are Old Dominion’s “Break Up With Him,” “Hunter Hayes’ “21,” Jake Owen’s “Real Life” and Lady Antebellum’s “Long Stretch of Love.” Of course I just posted my review of “Break Up With Him” and my extreme distaste with it. Hayes’ “21” is getting a good amount of buzz and should get a good run at the top. Owen’s “Real Life” will probably go on a similar run to “Beachin'” this summer. Lady Antebellum has been irrelevant for months and it surprised when I saw “Long Stretch of Love” got a nice bump in airplay this week. So maybe they’ll be returning to the top 30 soon. Unfortunately all four of these songs aren’t any good, so country music radio won’t be getting an injection of quality anytime soon. Remember to keep your radio off and your own music library turned on.

As always be sure to weigh in on this week’s chart in the comments below.

7 thoughts on “The Current Pulse of Mainstream Country Music [June 20]

  1. Raymond June 10, 2015 / 1:10 pm

    Hey Long Stretch Of Love is ok. I do like the rocking chorus and it does feel like Love Don’t Live Here.

    The whole Kelsea Carrie Easton Blake thing is just intense today Carrie is in the lead on MB but Blake is staring her down and Kelsea is still fighting. Easton though his song has too high of a burn rate to hit the top Jason Aldean will close in. Oh if you are wondering why Girl Crush fell two spots is because The Top 10 can only have 2 female led songs so Girl Crush will have to wait for Kelsea and Carrie to fall.

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  2. Ron June 10, 2015 / 1:11 pm

    I can see you not liking Reba’s song but its nowhere near as bad as Real Life or Games

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  3. Kevin Davis June 10, 2015 / 3:18 pm

    Wow, it didn’t take “Sangria” long to jump up the charts. I guess that’s the advantage of being Blake Shelton. Is it too early to say that Houser’s new single has flopped? That would be a blessing. You’re probably right about Owen’s song returning to the chart, but I am similarly hopeful that it may flop.

    What strikes me when I look at this chart is how there are few, if any, guilty pleasures here. The bad songs are simply bad — completely unenjoyable. Some of the early bro-country stuff could be guilty pleasures, but now everything has degenerated so rapidly.

    If you are in an essay-writing mood, Josh (or Derek), I would love to read your thoughts in a future post on why the country fan base today is what it is. I think your readers are familiar with the corporate Nashville component, but I am routinely amazed at the average “country” fan who actually likes this garbage from Luke, Jason, FGL, and all the rest. Just look at the YouTube comments to their videos, and you can see how defensive they are about being “country.” Why do they care about the “country” label so much — when they obviously don’t care about the integrity of the genre? There’s an anthropological perspective that needs to be explored. This is a cultural problem, extending further than saladgate.

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  4. Lisandro Berry-Gaviria June 10, 2015 / 4:21 pm

    Well here’s my pulse for the week:
    1. Sippin’ on Fire -1 I too hoped this would be the song that started FGL’s downfall. Maybe next time 😦
    2. Wild Child +1
    3. Little Toy Guns +1 Overjoyed that this might actually get a shot at #1. It would be the first #1 for a solo female artist in the last two and a half years…jeez
    4. Sangria 0 I can tolerate this because Blake’s great at ballads, but I don’t want it to block Carrie from #1
    5. Love Me Like You Mean It -1 This song is on fire (not that I’m happy about it). Will it be able to hit #1 though? Interesting to watch.
    6. Baby Be My Love Song -1
    7. Smoke 0
    8. Don’t It 0 Billy’s charisma and charm save this from a -1
    9. Diamond Rings and Old Barstools +1 Tied for my best song (I like that you added that feature by the way Josh)
    10. Tonight Looks Good On You -1
    11. Love You Like That -1 I used to have this at a 0 because of a decent production but Derek’s review of it changed my mind
    12. Girl Crush +1
    13. Crushin’ It -1 You’re right Josh this is definitely slowing down
    14. One Hell of an Amen +1 Tied for my best song. Josh can you explain your reasoning for putting this at a 0 because I totally love it. It and LTG are the only really deep songs on the chart but it probably won’t peak above #10 😦
    15. Kiss You In the Morning -1 Tied for my worst song. Go away already, Michael Ray
    16. Young & Crazy +1 Sorry, I like ode to youth songs
    17. Kick the Dust Up -1 Tied for my worst song
    18. Loving You Easy 0
    19. Hell of a Night -1 Why does it sound like I’ve heard this song about a million times before…?
    20. Like a Wrecking Ball -1
    21. Crash and Burn -1 This is saved from being my worst song because it’s at least a breakup song instead of a bro-pop song.
    22. Riot 0
    23. Buy Me a Boat -1 Everybody else in my family loves this song because they think it’s a joke. Uh…no.
    24. Fly +1 The more I hear this the more I love it
    25. House Party -1 Tied for my worst song
    26. Lose My Mind -1
    27. I’m To Blame +1 Surprise! A country bad boy song done right! Not a regular occurence in this era of radio
    28. Gonna Wanna Tonight -1 Did he try to be less “trashy” with this song or something? Swing and a miss!
    29. Going Out Like That -1 Even if the song sucks, it’s good to see that Reba isn’t completely irrelevant
    30. Let Me See Ya Girl -1 Tied for my worst song
    Overall score: -9 Obviously I’m way more generous than you Josh…but it still sucks.

    My ten best songs:
    1. Diamond Rings and Old Barstools (9/10)
    1. One Hell of an Amen (9/10)
    3. Fly (8.5/10)
    3. Girl Crush (8.5/10)
    5. Little Toy Guns (8/10)
    6. Wild Child (7.5/10)
    7. Young & Crazy (7/10)
    7. I’m To Blame (7/10)
    9. Riot (6/10)
    10. Sangria (5.5/10)

    My ten worst songs:
    1. Kiss You In the Morning (0/10)
    1. Kick the Dust Up (0/10)
    1. House Party (0/10)
    1. Let Me See Ya Girl (0/10)
    5. Tonight Looks Good On You (0.5/10)
    5. Crash and Burn (0.5/10)
    7. Love Me Like You Mean It (1/10)
    7. Buy Me A Boat (1/10)
    9. Hell of a Night (1.5/10)
    9. Gonna Wanna Tonight (1.5/10)

    Other notes:
    Nothin’ Like You probably has a chance to get Top 30 next week also with two spots open. My guess is that Break Up With Him makes it and then it’s a battle between Nothin’ Like You, Long Stretch of Love, and Real Life.
    Josh can you also tell me why you don’t like Long Stretch of Love? (For the record, I rate it a 0.)
    Jana Kramer is finally in the Top 40 so hopefully we’ll be seeing her soon. I think most of us can agree that I Got the Boy is a great song (despite Kramer’s fake twang).
    Currington and Houser’s new singles debuted at #41 and #58, respectively. Honestly, I was surprised that it took this long for We Went to chart. It’s made for radio.

    Overall thoughts…it’ll be really funny when all of the people who like this shit grow up and realize how pathetic they are.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Josh Schott June 10, 2015 / 4:29 pm

      “One Hell of an Amen” is a decent song that could’ve been good in my mind if it had went deeper. Gilbert could’ve made it better than it is. “Long Stretch of Love” sounds like every other Lady A song I’ve heard.

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      • Lisandro Berry-Gaviria June 10, 2015 / 4:51 pm

        Oh well I felt like One Hell of an Amen went pretty deep talking about the soldier that died overseas (I guess that might be considered pandering but it doesn’t feel like that to me) and the person diagnosed with cancer, but I suppose a third verse could’ve definitely helped the song. And yeah, Long Stretch of Love bears a great resemblance lyrically to most Lady A songs. I did like the production however so that made it a 0 for me.

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  5. Pete Marshall June 10, 2015 / 9:27 pm

    I have a feeling that Keith Urban “John song” will debut in the top 30 next week. I’m going to puke now after seeing this chart full of bad so-called country songs charts.

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